Thursday marked the last day of term before MPs left Parliament for a two-week recess.
As is now tradition, Governments tend to rush out unpopular decisions quietly in written and oral statements from ministers with the hope a blitz of announcements and people winding down for Christmas will help provide cover.
This year was notable for two pieces of embarrassing news for the Government being even more of a distraction: Damian Green being forced to resign over sex harassment and pornography allegations, and Tory Minister Mark Garnier being cleared of breaching the ministerial code after asking his secretary to buy sex toys.
Here are five bits of important news stories that may have been lost in the mix:
1 20,000 Badgers Culled – Twice As Many As Last Year
Ministers called the controversial cull “effective” as almost twice as many badgers were killed this autumn after a massive expansion of the cull zones.
The Green Party labelled the cull ‘”inhumane, unscientific and disgraceful”.
2 U-Turn On Excluding Foster Carers From Claiming Free Childcare
ICYMI. Big win for foster children ahead of Christmas with thanks to @fosteringnet@GMB_unionhttps://t.co/853TfOAGTo
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) December 20, 2017
The u-turn was announced by children and families minister Robert Goodwill during a Westminster Hall debate led by Labour MP Lisa Nandy, who campaigned on the issue.
Excluding foster child carers from the government’s flagship childcare policy, which increased the potential number of free hours a week for three- and four-year-olds up to 30 in total, was labelled discriminatory and inexplicable.
3 Delay To Contaminated Blood Inquiry
Disappointing that nearly 6 months on we still don't have a Chair. Governments failure to remove DOH from leading on inquiry straight away has been major reason that nearly 6 months on still don't have progress we all want to see happen. Justice delayed is Justice denied. https://t.co/CkjAYna8Yv
— Diana Johnson (@DianaJohnsonMP) December 21, 2017
The name and terms of reference are to be announced in New Year, but Labour MP Diana Johnson expressed concern at an apparent delay.
“Disappointing that nearly six months on we still don’t have a Chair,” the MP, who has led campaigning on the issue, said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
4 Cuts To Public Health Budgets
“Cutting the public health budget is short sighted and will undermine the objectives we all share to improve the public’s health and to keep the pressure off the NHS and adult social care." Read the full statement from @CllrSeccombehttps://t.co/6iW8FISCXI
— LGAcomms (@LGAcomms) December 21, 2017
Funding is being slashed by £531million between 2015/16 and 2019/2020, says the Local Government Association.
Critics said the move was a sign Whitehall sees prevention services to tackle teenage pregnancy, child obesity and substance misuse as “nice-to-do but ultimately non-essential”.
5 High Court Ruling On ‘Discriminatory’ Disability Benefit Changes
Breaking: the DWP’s changes to Personal Independence Payments rules have just been declared unlawful. This is a huge victory for disabled campaigners.
— Frances Ryan (@DrFrancesRyan) December 21, 2017
Ruling that the eform was in breach of people’s human rights, it found an amendment to personal independence payment (PIP) “cannot not be objectively justified”.
The case could see more than 160,000 people being entitled to the welfare payment.